Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Jan 2006

Texas' Young Leaning Toward Dodging NFL Draft

This is actually kinda surprising. Usually after a game like Young had last night (and into this morning), players end up on stage shaking hands with Tags in late April. Part of the reason Young might stay is because he doesn't look to be a top-five pick, and many of the teams in the top 10, "have invested heavily in quarterbacks in recent years, and they might not be ready to give up on those picks or inclined to use another high choice on the position."

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 05 Jan 2006

73 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2006, 10:21am by dryheat


by DNL (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:38pm

ESPN ran this article before the Rose Bowl.

by William (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:39pm

I think this story was first published before last night's game. I have a hard time believing he still stays, especially if the Texans promise to take him. David Carr or not, I think it would be difficult to pass up on a guy like that--a much better Michael Vick, who proved to everyone that he was college football's best player this year.

by P. Ryan Wilson :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:44pm

Whoops. When I saw the date stamp (Updated: Jan. 5, 2006, 10:40 AM ET), I figured it was written after the game. I guess the only update was in the last sentence of the article: "Young, 22, ran for 200 yards and passed for 267 more against USC on Wednesday." Maybe another sentence should be added that reads, "And Vince Young declared for the draft while scoring the winning touchdown last night."

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:45pm

You can't put much stock in the guy's postgame comments, except for this. A month or so ago, he said "I'm coming back." Last night, he said "I'll discuss it with my family and make my decision."

The article was run before the game, then updated with his postgame quotes.

I'd be shocked if he came back after the amount of money he probably made himself last night.

by pawnking (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 1:59pm

If I were his father, I'd probably tell him to go pro and use his studying time studying how to spend the money.

by Dman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:00pm

He'd be an absolute fool not to go to the NFL after that game. Look at leinart, how much money do you think he missed out on by not going to the nfl last year after his big national championship game?

by RH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:08pm

The absolute lowest he could fall is to the Cardinals, still a top 10 pick. More likely he'd be the 3rd person chosen by Tennessee, much as I hate to say it.

by RH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:09pm

Re: 6

Depends. What's the difference between the signing difference of #1 and #2? I'm guessing, thanks to inflation, it's only a few million bucks.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:09pm

David Carr just became one of the more intriguing subplots of the coming off-season.

Mysteries abound:
-Who will make the Texans an offer for him?
-What can Houston get?
-What would be the best realistic place for him to go?
-Or will Houston simply keep him and take Bush?

Some of you guys are going to laugh but I think Carr can still be a very good NFL QB if he's dealt. Put him behind even average protection and let's see what he can really do.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:12pm

The Saints, Raiders and Jets all need a QB. The Jets probabally have the least cap room with the big contract they gave Pennington a couple years back. I'd say the only reason Young has to stay in College is he doesn't want to play in New Orleans/Baton Rouge/San Antionio/LA

by RH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:13pm

I don't think Young will go to the Texans, at least, not at #1.

The problem with Young is, he's a boom or bust prospect. With a QB like Leinart, you know what you're getting. A very good QB. Maybe he won't be a hall of famer, hard to say, but he won't bust out. But Young could either be a hall of famer, revolutionize the QB position like Vick couldn't, or he could be the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf, or anything inbetween. There's no security. And with the conservative Dan Reeves as the "consultant" in Texas, I have to think they're not inclined to gamble their franchise so starkly on one person, even a local boy.

by Jesse (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:22pm

I wouldn't be surprised if he went, though I'm not sure he'd be better off going. Either way he looks to be a heck of a player. His mechanics are really screwy, but after well over 400 yards of total offense, there's not much you can say

(btw- was anybody else as incredibly happy as I was that USC lost? They are the Patriots of college football, in that the media always assumes they will win, and they are always really obsessed with themselves, etc.)

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:30pm

And with the conservative Dan Reeves as the “consultant� in Texas, I have to think they’re not inclined to gamble their franchise so starkly on one person, even a local boy.

Of course, who was the head coach of Atlanta for Vick's best season?

That being said, Houston would be foolish to draft Young. Their problems lie on the line, first and foremost.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:31pm

Even if you assume that Young won't hurt his standing in another year, in the new CBA, it is likely that there will be some sort of rookie slotting pay scale, and if so it will almost certainly drag down the salaries/bonuses of the top picks in the draft.

From a purely financial perspective, he's better off going pro now.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:39pm

I think he would be the first QB taken if he goes - what is your rationale for saying he is not a Top 5 pick?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 2:53pm

#14 is correct. The prospect of a new CBA forcing down the upper-echelon first round bonuses just about dictates that anybody who can go anywhere near the top this year should come out this year.

by IzzionSona (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:00pm

The big question regarding Young vs Leinart though is what value do NFL franchises place on a QB that played a pro-style offense in college. While Young certainly put on an impressive physical display last night, it seemed like Texas was running more of an improv-option type offense, and that doesn't translate well to the current NFL offensive fad (see also: Ron Mexico, ATL)

That said, I think Young would certainly get a top-10 pick, but who wants to play for the Boy Scouts?

by Chris M (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:07pm

From the little I saw of Carr this year, he looked okay and very scared behind that o-line. Whether in the draft or free agency, they need to get that man a Left Tackle to be his best friend.

Young looked like a monster last night. His skill set and size makes me think of Culpepper - could someone who has seen him more tell me if that's accurate?

by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:09pm

Young won't go #1 and he won't be the first quarterback taken simply because Leinert is more proven and GMs are less wary taking a pure passer rather than a slash player.

Another note, if things hold up and New Orleans takes Matt Leinert, something interesting may happen in the next few years. If Stefan Lefors ends up as the starting quarterback for the Panthers at some point the NFC South will have 4 left-handed starting QBs. It seems likely that they will have 3 lefties under center as soon as next year, and althought Jake made the Pro Bowl this season he is going to be 31 next year and has looked shaky at times.

Imagine that though. It's a left wing revolution!

by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:30pm

I still say the Texans need to trade down for a few picks and get some O-line help. Dom Davis is about league average for his career (glancing over his DVOA), and might be better behind a competant line (I know the stats are supposed to account for that, but I can't really believe that Aaron is able to completely extract the detriment of a line that's THAT bad... call it failing at the extremes). The mediots will say its a bad idea, and the Texans should take Bush, but the mediots are always creaming themselves over supposed potential superstars. We already know that its more dollar-efficient to have a RBBC approach than a superstar RB for the same VOA, and there's certainly no guarantee Reggie Bush won't bust (given his height and weight, I'm still betting that he will).

Somehow, I think Young to the Titans makes a lot of sense. People are calling him a bigger/stronger Ron Mexico, but how about a faster and niftier Steve McNair? Let him sit for a few years and work on his mechanics (ala Heir McNair) while Volek starts, and he could be that guy.

Just my $0.02

by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:40pm

A couple people mentioned whether Young might not want to play for the Saints, so I'll throw in my $0.02 on that. If he gets picked by the Saints, he should be ecstatic.

I don't think anyone realistically expects him to be the 2nd overall pick, even after yesterday. Leinart will still be the top QB taken. There have been concerns about Young's throwing mechanics for a long time, and he plays in a non-NFL-style system. His closest comparison is Michael Vick, and people have begun to sour on Vick.

Young will be a first-rounder though, and he should probably strike while the iron is hot. His stock will never be higher than it is now.

by R.J. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:41pm

The "faster, niftier" Steve McNair comment seems the closest comp I've heard -- though V. Young is much, much faster. My impression is that McNair had better throwing "mechanics" in college than Young does, but no doubt the couple of years he had with the clipboard to work on them in practice helped him immensely. Question: where was McNair taken in the draft? And can a team be that patient these days (especially with a top-5 pick)?

by Leeroy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:44pm

How is Leinart considered the sure thing? He looks like Alex Smith the 2nd to me. He has a weak arm and was on a team that dominated 90% of their games. People assume he's going to turn out like Carson Palmer, but he doesn't have the arm or talent that Palmer had.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:50pm

McNair was taken #3 overall, wasn't he? He sat behind someone (O'Donnell?) for a couple of years and had a great career.

Sounds like an appropriate career path for VY.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 3:54pm

Poor 49ers... last year they couldn't trade the top pick, this year there are going to be 3 players with the hype machine behind them...

I expect some type of blockbuster trade for Young, Bush or Leinart.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:00pm

I'm not sure why Young's play fake hand offs won't work in the NFL. It's not as if he was running the wish bone. The problem I see with any QB in the NFL that get high value from his legs is... health. Can Young stay healthy in the NFL where his running will almost certainly lead to hits that normal NFL QB's never risk.

by Clod (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:02pm

What is this about a weak arm on Lienart?? I have heard this more than once...was anyone watching last night? I had the weak arm thing in my mind from all the drivle about that, but it seemed to me that at least half his passes last night were rockets accross the middle, many into very tight coverage. I saw nothing in that game besides that questionable INT, and one other bad throw to lower his prospects.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:04pm

Gosh, coaching and front office performance plays such a large role in draft pick performance, that it becomes difficult to know which is the egg and which is the chicken. I think anybody who gets a chance to be coached by Jeff Fisher really has a leg up, while anybody who ends up in a Tom Benson or Matt Millen situation will rue the day.

by Nicolas (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:06pm

Young to the Saints sounds pretty good to me. He'd be like a bigger unflappable Aaron Brooks. People have been mentioning his odd throwing motion as his downfall, but I always felt that for a QB the most important factor is poise in the pocket, a la Montana or Brady. It's not like Kyle Bollers super mechanics have really amounted to anything.

by Nicolas (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:08pm

RE #12. Yeah, I was rooting for Texas, mainly because I can't stand Leinart. First he totally dissed my 49ers. To be a 5th year senior after you've won the Heisman and a National Championship was a cowardly move. What did he have left to accomplish in college? The answer is nothing (haha). I hope that dancing class was worth it. Then he had just a total lack of humility in a loss that you could arguably place squarely on his shoulders. He said, "I think we're a better football team, they just made the plays in the end," What nerve! No Matty, your team not making the plays means that Texas is a better football team.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:12pm

Did anybody read The Sports Guy's Diray of the rose-bowl game? In the course of 4.5 hours he goes from thinking Vince Young can't play in the NFL to thinking he'll be the 4th best QB in the league (Behind Peytom Branning and Carson Palmer). http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/060105

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:13pm

Nope, Johonny, Young cannot control NFL games via running in the manner he does college games, while remaining healthy. Sure, he will make some big plays with his legs, but if a coordinator tries to have him dominate games with his running, he'll have a very shortened career, which is not what one is looking for in a player that has 20 or 30 million dollars guaranteed.

NFL-caliber hitting is just on another level completely, which is why I thought so much of the talk of USC beating various last place NFL teams was so nonsensical.

by GaryS (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:21pm

Leinhart is the real deal and if Houston takes Bush over him, they deserve to lose.

Leinhart was rocked in the first half, came out in the 2nd and picked the Texas defense apart. 17-19 I believe with one of those two dropped. Even the Int in the first half was because of a great play by the safety.

Arm strength does not a great QB make (see Brady, Tom and Montana, Joe). You have to be able to see the field, find the open guy and get it to him accurately and on time. Lienhart did that repeatedly last night and throughout his career.

As for the comparisons to Alex Smith, you must be kidding. Leinhart played in a pro style, drop back offense against big time college programs and in high pressure, championship games. Smith played in a gimmicky, shotgun offense against Colorado St, Hawaii, and a bunch of second and third tier schools. Alex Smith may be fairly compared to Tim Couch, Andre Ware and any Texas Tech QB that played in a spread offense, but not Lienhart.

As for Vince Young, he is a phenomenal athlete, BUT he plays in a spread offense and relies on his legs as much as or more than his arm. A bigger Micheal Vick, more like Randall Cunningham. He still needs a lot of work to become a pro style QB. He may come out, but he is at least 2-3 years away from being effective as a pro. And I don't care how big and fast you are, a running QB in the pros is a QB with a short future (see Cullpepper, Dante).

Reggie Bush is another great athlete, but cannot carry a team like Lienhart can. As a pro, he may be more effective, and have a longer and more profitable career, as a WR. Just look at last night, where he was far more dangerous and difficult to control as a receiver than as a RB.

If Vince is smart, he'll stay for his senior year, get better as a passer, and come out a more mature person. And even if, God forbid, he is injured, he and his family will be taken care of the rest of their lives by Texas fans and alumni.(That last part is probably true even if he turns pro tomorrow.)

by Parker (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:21pm

I don't know guys, do NFL teams, talent assessment people, GM's or whoever really go from, "Nah, we don't need Vince Young" to "We've go the 3rd pick, let's take Vince Young" on the basis of his Rose Bowl performance?

Don't get me wrong, Young was incredible last night. But every time he ran the ball I was thinking, 'Where is the LB that should be shutting this down?' and every time he simply stepped out of someone's arms I thought, 'Let's see you do that against a pro'.

Then again, I often don't know what I am talking about.

by Parker (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:22pm

I just realised that my last post doesn't make my point at all. My point is NOT that Vince Young may not make a decent, good or even great pro, I have no idea about that sort of thing.

My point was that if you are the guy responsible for advising the Saints about who they should take in the draft and you are thinking about Leinart or Young ro some other top QB prospect, haven't you already seen the game film of every single game they have ever played? And if you have done that, don't you already have a pretty good idea about which guy you want? How much can one game change your opinion? If you're still not sure, wouldn't you do some kind of private workout so that you could see everything up close?

by Parker (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:34pm

Oh Gary, you did not just say that. If Vince stays and gets hurt, he will probably be well compensated by the insurance policy he should have, but to say that the Texas alumni would take care of him and his family for the rest of his life the way an NFL contract and a bit of financial planning would is a pretty wild statement. People forget pretty quick these days.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:39pm

This is the kind of speculation that happens after any epic game. Young was a gamer last night and if the draft were tomorrow, I could see him going in the top 5. After the glow of the NC and the totally dominating performance put on by Young fade from memory, most NFL GM's for bottom feeding teams are going to do what they do best, hang onto their jobs in spite of all the evidence that they are entirely ill suited for it. This involves lots of risk aversion (or risk diversion) and CYA.

If you take Leinart and he's a bust, well that's on him, he won the Heisman an NC and he's dreamy. You take Young and he's a bust, what the hell is wrong with you?? Everyone knows that mobile, athletic QBs can't succeed in the NFL...well anyone that doesn't watch the Vikings (before kneesplosion) or the Eagles (before groin gate).

If I'm Vince Young, and I'm only slightly slower, I'm going to view it as a blessing to be taken in the 10-17 range. The drop off in salary is quite a bit, but I think many of the teams that need a QB in that range (esp. Balt/Miami) are a much better place to ply the trade than Houston or NO/SA/LA/BR/QB/WC.

by Josh (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:46pm

Is there any doubt that Vince Young is the best big-game clutch performer in college football over the past decade? He was awesome last Rose Bowl, and was awesome last night, single-handedly carrying Texas to victory over USC. As a Titans fan, Vince Young looks like the second coming of the NFL's ultimate iron man and warrior, Steve McNair. The Texans will take Bush, the Saints will take Leinart because they won't take another running QB after the Aaron Brooks Experiment. That's the perfect scenario for TN to take VY and keep McNair as the QB for two years to groom his replacement. Even if this does not happen, TN could take Leinart, Bush, or Ferguson. Much better draft than last years. Seriously, did any player taken in the top 10 deserve to be there based on their performance? GO TITANS GO!

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:48pm

Look at Vince Young's #s prior to this year. Then, look at, say, Kyle Boller's numbers before his final college season.

I'm not saying that Young = Boller, but I am saying that it seems that the light finally clicked for him. However, players are faster and hit harder in the NFL. Defenses are more complex. Young will also have to adjust to a MUCH more complex offensive system than what UT ran. This without having as much relative talent around him (relative talent defined as "talent level compared to the competition"). That would be painful for him.

Then again, it would be painful for him a year later, so it's really about whether he wants to get paid now or later, how much he enjoys Austin, and who he wants to risk playing for.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:55pm

I think the most impressive thing about Young's performance last night was the fact that he was not sacked once. Now granted, I didn't watch the whole game (only the 4th quarter), but USC was throwing blitzes at him from every direction, and Young was making the reads and getting it to his hot-routes consistently (and when he didn't have time for that, he simply stepped around the blitzers and jogged for 15 yards).

I don't know how great he can be at the pro level, but his performance passing the ball was impressive... I expected him to run wild... I didn't expect him to throw for 250plus yards.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:56pm

Again, injury is not the only risk for Young. There is a very good chance that the bonuses paid to first round draft choices will be going down dramatically with the new CBA. I respect Leinart's decision to stay in the college game one more year, but I'm not comfortable advising somebody to substantially risk several million dollars by doing the same. Young knows his cricumstances better than anyone, and any decision he makes should be respected.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:17pm

Young cemented himself as the best player in the draft last night. I was reserving judgment on him because of his mechanics, but I'm not any more. He does what every NFL quarterback needs to do to be successful- he handles pressure very well, he makes good decisions, and funky mechanics or not, he's very accurate with his short and medium range passing. And his the most fluid running quarterback I've ever seen. He doesn't have Michael Vick's stop and start quickness, but he's huge, he's fast, he has great balance, and he runs at great angles. USC had the exact right defense called to stop a quarterback run on that last play, a zone dog with the end dropping into the flat, and all it took was the DE moving his weight the wrong way and it was all over.

I don't want to hear about his delivery. Yes, it's something that a quarterback coach will likely tinker with, but Bernie Kosar played for a long time with a funky delivery, and so did Rich Gannon for that matter. Neither player had anything resembling Young's skill set.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:22pm

Some problems with Young in the NFL:

He only ran in the shotgun. Traditionally QBs that do this have something of a problem adapting to the NFL. This isn't condemning necessarily, it's just a factor.

He has bad mechanics. This is not something that NFL coaches want to see.

He doesn't have a good arm. Leinart has a better arm. Young didn't complete one pass over 15 yards last night (in the air at least - YAC made some longer passes) and his long throws are of the fade variety. If he needs to do something like the 15-yard out, he won't cut it.

What he is good at is making his reads and doing the right thing on those reads. He shows a lot of intelligence in that respect, and doesn't often appear to force the ball somewhere he can't get it. The problem being that he can't get it into very many places.

A better game to watch to get an idea of how he might perform is against Ohio State, which had the LBs needed to stop a running QB. His numbers weren't nearly as insane.

By the time the combine comes along, we'll be talking about Young's performance and leadership but the scouts won't. They'll be talking about how he can't do the 15-yard out, how his deep balls just flutter out, and how he has touch but not speed.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:34pm

Yeah, I was rooting for Texas, mainly because I can’t stand Leinart. First he totally dissed my 49ers. To be a 5th year senior after you’ve won the Heisman and a National Championship was a cowardly move. What did he have left to accomplish in college?

There were seven girls he hadn't nailed yet. I guess the three-peat and b2b Heisman would be cool too, but his motivation was probably living like a rock star.

by Dman (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:39pm

If you blame last night's loss on Leinart I have to assume you didn't watch the game. Reggie Bush's lateral and the soft usc defense gave that game away.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:41pm

Young has a much better arm than Leinart. Leinart can't get any juice on a ball that goes more than seven or eight yards past the line of scrimmage, and his deep throws are hospital balls waiting to happen in the NFL.

Young might not have completed a ball over 15 yards last night, but I don't think he threw very many, either, and for good reason. USC was bringing the blitz on nearly every play, and were sending corners off the edges to get quick pressure on him. There wasn't time for downfield stuff to develop. Young attacked the vacated spots on the field where the blitz was coming from, which is exactly what he was supposed to do. USC was doing the same thing to counter Texas with all of the quick hitch plays, trying to get the ball quickly out to the perimeter to negate the blitzing. That's not an arm issue- that's gameplan.

I don't disagree that his mechanics are unorthodox, but he gets good accuracy off his throws, which makes it a moot point. Leinart's throws were often high or low, forcing the receiver to make a play- Young, with very few exceptions, was putting the ball on the receiver's hands. Again, his mechanics don't look good, but neither did Bernie Kosar's. He doesn't have a slow release and he places the ball well, so I don't see this being a problem.

Agreed about the offense, but I think the Steve McNair comparison is valid. Young should spend his first year on the bench, or coming in for spot duty at most.

by RH (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 5:51pm

Leinart's arm strength is not a huge concern to me. I really see Leinart as a more accurate Trent Dilfer- He is (or should be) a starter for a decade or more, but he's not going to be a Superstar. But he also isn't going to suck, no matter where he goes.

Vince Young... He COULD be greatness. He COULD be horrid. There's no way to tell yet.

Personally I'd rather have the Titans trade down to 9 with the Cardinals and draft Cutler.

by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:32pm

I don't think that Young will be able to do anything even remotely similar to wha the did last night in the NFL. When he ran, the defenders just bounced off of him and then there was no one down field to stop him. That doesn't happen in the NFL where the guys know how to tackle. When he passed, it seemed like he threw it to a guy running a 7 to 10 yard hitch every time. NFL QB's have to make a lot more throws than that. Now that I think about it, when Texas had the balled it seemed like I was watching somebody playing a video game on the easiest setting. You just keep calling the same play and it just keeps working.

by Nicolas (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:33pm

RE #45 You can absolutely blame Leinart for the loss. Bush's mistake was bad, but Leinart made plenty of mistakes too. There were 4 huge errors by Leinart that I saw.

1) The weak QB sneak on 4th and 1. Leinart just fell to the ground. 2) The interception in the 1st half. That ball probably shouldn't have been floated so much. The WR was open, but the ball hung up long enough for the Safety to run over and pick it off. 3) Before the 4th and 2 run, on 2nd down Leinart threw at the feet of a wide-open TE. This would have iced the game, but it instead stopped the clock. This was a play that should have been made. 4) :08 secs left and close to a long field goal, Leinart scrambled then threw long, but time ran out. He shouldn’t have scrambled unless he was going for a hail mary.
- Yes, the defense was soft, Bush made 1 huge mistake, Carroll's management was less then spectacular and hindsight is 20/20 and all that. You can probably point to a number of things, but Leinart was the QB on the team that loss and he made some big mistakes, so yeah you can blame him too.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:41pm

Just saw an ESPN article with the man with the hair. He says he talked to a bunch of NFL personnel and they say the USC game was huge in deciding Young's draft stock. A game against one of the best teams where a QB makes all the plays to bring his team back from a 12 point deficit is a major determining factor in the draft. He also said that there is a buzz in Houston to bring their local kid to the local team. Finally, Carr is due a roster bonus on March 1, which means that keeping him is not automatic.

by ajn (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:44pm

i remember a story in 2004 (i don't remember where, though) regarding how vince young had developed a relationship with steve mcnair and mcnair had helped counsel / coach young early in his college career. the details are hazy, but i know there was some sort of friendship built.

with that in mind, and assuming young enters the draft, the titans' pick is hugely intriguing. they ought to take d'brickashaw, but whomever of the bush/leinert/lendale white crew that's still around will be tempting for norm chow to lobby for, and the mcnair-young friendship might push the titans in that direction. plus, after the pacman jones disaster, there will be huge pressure here in nashville (and from keith bullock) for them to pick a solid citizen, as well. very intriguing...

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:45pm

Oh yeah, he also says that all the criticism against Leinart is not that important. Just as any QB can be criticized once they are in the NFL, the same goes for a QB in college that everyone knows deserves a starting NFL job. In other words, criticizing Leinart or his arm strength is the same as criticizing Manning for his immobility, Brees for his height, McNabb for his inaccuracy, etc. You can find weaknesses, but all the guys can get the job done.

by MdM (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 6:47pm

Young reminded me of McNabb when he threw...(this is the first time I've seen him). There was a one-hopper, and he made wide open throws look hard. Maybe I just watched him in a bad stretch?

This Shaq thing he does won't wash in the NFL. But I like him. I think he'll be a great QB.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 7:22pm

"Deserves" a starting job? Only if you mean that there are a number of QBs currently starting who probably shouldn't be.

I just don't think it's possible to look at a player in college and say with any degree of certainty that he will or won't make in the NFL. Four years ago, people were avidly debating whether Carr or Harrington should be selected first. Neither of them have established themselves as NFL quarterbacks yet, and they may never do so. (By the way, 2002 seems to have been the QB draft of death. Go back and look at the names ...)

I wasn't particularly impressed with Leinart's play last night, and I agree that Young will not be able to work in the NFL the way he did at Texas. Yeah, Young may have jacked up his stock based on that game, but there's still the combine and/or private workouts, and even after all that, I suspect a lot of it comes down to who the teams wanted to take in the first place.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 7:44pm

1) I've heard a lot of comparisons between Young and other mobile NFL QB's, but the one I think is the best is the one I haven't heard from anyone - Steve Young. Both are quite fast, but even more big/strong, and extremely hard to tackle. I'm not old enough to really remember Steve in college/USFL/Tampa, but Vince reminds me a lot of his early years in San Fran. The running styles are very similar - stronger than Mexico, faster than McNair/McNabb. And he's very good already at knowing when to take off versus when to just buy time in the pocket to get a receiver open, a la Elway (although his ridiculous off-the-back-foot throw from left to right sidelines was... well...)

2) He will not be able to run nearly that much in the NFL. A good game to illustrate this would be the OSU game, where he faced an NFL-quality linebacking corps that basically beat the living crap out of him. Remember, at one point Texas was warming up some other guy on the sidelines (I don't remember if he actually made it in), and I think they used at least one timeout to keep him in the game when he couldn't get up after some plays. His running was a key part of their offense, and he took an absolute pounding.

Now, since few teams (and certainly none in the Big 12) had a defense like OSU, he didn't get hit anything like that the rest of the year. If there were defenses like that everywhere, he wouldn't have made it through October. Guess what? In the NFL, everyone has a defense like that. He simply will not be able to be that run-dependent in that league. He can still make things happen with his legs, of course, but you won't see 25 designed QB draws per game, and he'll need to slide or get OOB a lot more readily. All that talent won't do a lot of good from IR.

3) I think his arm is pretty strong, and he does put some nice touch on the ball, especially on fades. His mechanics are definitely funky, but those things can be fixed, or even left alone if that's how he throws best. If he can throw it hard enough, with a quick enough release, and get it to go where he wants, I don't care if he turns around and throws it over his head.

However, there are some things that worry me, things that are tough to judge even in private workouts. Because of the style offense Texas ran (one that made outstanding use of his skills, it should be noted), he didn't make many reads/throws that he'll need in the NFL. Here is 95% of the Longhorn playbook this year:

Shotgun snap. RB heads left. Either hand off or fake. Roll right. If designed run, go. If pass, look to receiver option 1, then 2, if neither is hilariously wide open, run.

That play (or the mirror image) was pretty much it. While that can be a bread-and-butter against college defenses, it places such a physical toll on the QB against an NFL defense that it would be situational. It'll be a different story in the pros, where the RB, WRs, and OL won't all be mega-talented compared to the opponents, and the defenses actually may be able to cover all options, and a DE or OLB 1-on-1 with Vince won't be such a mismatch.

One thing that struck me about Texas this year was that, except on designed fade passes, you never saw Young throw to a receiver with even moderate coverage. Either someone was completely wide open, or he just ran with it. You never saw the 15-yard out that pro QBs need to read and throw quickly against cover 2. You rarely saw a seam route, threading the ball into a hole in the zone. In fact, because their running game was so potentially devastating, few teams had the defensive talent to even play zone against them, since most had to commit extra run defenders and take their chances against the pass.

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a good thing that Young always hit the open guy. There are more than enough QBs that could have guys that wide open, and still manage to bounce it eight feet in front, or hit the safety six feet behind him. But it also makes it that much harder to judge his NFL-readiness. We have very little to tell whether he can make the throws he needs to in the NFL, in game situations. Sure, you can work him out, and see if he throws the out with good zip, if he can place the ball accurately over the middle. But, can he do it at game speed, make the read and know not just, "this guy is wide open", but "this guy is going to be open enough when the ball gets there"? Can he place it accurately enough, zip the ball through the maze of LB arms, and bring it down between the linebackers and safeties? And can he do it all in the mere seconds that he'll get against an NFL pass rush, where just breaking four tackles and running isn't always an option? Those are the things we don't know yet, and those are the hardest things to measure from a workout. And it's that unknown - whether the passing skills from Texas translate to NFL wherever - that makes him such an intriguing pick.

Personally, I think he'll be a great one. He has a tremendous work effort, and is very bright and dedicated. The physical talents are beyond obvious, as is the incredibly on-field presence. I think there will be a fairly long adjustment period, since he's not used to the pro-style offense, but with some good coaching (granted, this far from guaranteed on any team in position to draft him) I think he'll be able to learn it within a year or two. With Leinart and Quinn and maybe that guy from Vanderbilt, you know a lot more of what you're getting in this regard (adapting to pro game). But Vince has more talent than all of them combined, like if they joined into a QB Voltron or something (OK, not true, but can I really resist insane hyperbole today?). It's that tension between likely and possible that makes the draft so darn interesting.

by jack (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 7:46pm

Two things. First, did anybody else wonder about the announcers talking about what a great coach Carroll is, and what great adjustments he makes at halftime? They also pointed out that he serves as his own defensive coordinator and that USC has been carried by its offense. Great recruiter, yes. Great coach, I don't think so.

Second, I wonder if we saw the future of Reggie Bush last night. He ran wild against Fresno State, but against a team who could match up with speed and tackling, he looked good but not like Gale Sayers. I don't think the Texans should take him - they should take Leinart or Young, if they're giving up on Carr, or trade for more picks.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 8:32pm

Before anyone else praises Vince Young for being "a gamer" or "clutch" - please remember that he will be including Pete Carroll and his "defensive adjustments" in his list of people he owes Christmas Cards to next year.

by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 8:36pm

Pete Carroll had the perfect play called on that 4th down- the defensive end who dropped into the zone and would have been in perfect position to stop Young allowed himself to get distracted by a receiver running through his zone, opening up an angle for Young.

But the playcall was good.

by R.J. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 9:26pm

Great analysis. As good as anything I've read lately. I also thought about the Steve Young comparison (and I went to college with him so I watched him closely). I see similarities in running style -- not just speed and strength but a "running back" skill level to make people miss and take angles to avoid tackles, though Vince is bigger and a little stronger (and Steve's college offense was a pass first, pass second, run only if you need to offense so he never really put up the rushing yards he was capable of). But Steve Young had much more traditional "throwing mechanics" and actually played in a pro-style offense in college and demonstrated the ability to make the kinds of reads and throws necessary in the pro game. It certainly seems possible (even likely) that with good coaching at the next level Vince could be a next-generation Steve Young, but the better comp to my eyes is Steve McNair (and the right career path as well.)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 9:39pm

I largely agree, Trogdor. From what I can gather, Young has a huge capacity for hard work, which, when combined with his physical talents, will very likely preclude the possibility of him being a bust. All dependent, of course, of him not getting Archie Manninged or David Carred. If you are a Vince Young fan, pull that he falls to Jeff Fisher and the Titans in the no. three position.

by Subrata Sircar (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:02pm

Vince Young has been making those plays happen for two years now - it wasn't just last night.Before watching Texas-Michigan last year, I had no idea who he was. The Michigan defenders still don't.Ohio State did beat him up this year, but he damn-near-single-handedly won that game for them. USC doesn't have a great secondary, but their front seven is pretty good.Vince Young has been making the best defenses college has to offer look like they're playing in slow motion. (That was actually the feeling I had watching the Rose Bowl - every time he ran, it looked like he was moving at half-speed, and everyone else was at one-quarter. It looked so easy.)That speed and savvy will translate well. He won't be able to run over NFL defenders the way he did the USC safety who hit him at the four on his first TD run (he absorbed a full-on hit, kept his feet and leapt over the line) but once he realizes that the slide for a first down is fine ...Neither Leinert or Young showed off their arms to "pro advantage" in this game. Leinert threw a couple of strikes to people wide open twenty yards down the middle, but he puts a lot of air under his deep throws. (This hasn't been a problem for him because he's got great receivers and he's pretty accurate, but that cost him a pick against Texas.) Young never went downfield at all unless his receiver was wide open with no one between him and the ball, so I have no idea if he can complete that throw over an NFL linebacker in a short zone.However, when it comes to the draft, I see Bush as a Warrick Dunn type, Young as a potential McNair/Vick+/Culpepper type, and Leinert settling in somewhere as an average-plus NFL QB. In particular, I see Leinert as having five years where mediots praise him for his "smart" decisions and accuracy under pressure before his allure wears off and people realize that he can't hit receivers in tight coverage on anything but a short route.It should be noted that I'm extremely skeptical of most college Heisman winners coming out and living up to the hype. That said, if I were Texas, I'd trade down. If I didn't get a reasonable offer for the pick, I'd take Young for one reason; he's the one most likely to make a difference behind a crappy offensive line.

by R.J. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:14pm

That's a great point that if the Texans aren't going to fix their o-line then Young gives them a chance (to win 6 games instead of 2) -- but for both their sakes I hope they don't go that route.

by DJ Any Reason (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:15pm

Re: 61, Young making the difference w/ crappy line

Once upon a time, when Buddy Ryan was the head coach of the Eagles, Randall Cunningham was amoung the league leaders in times sacked every year. That was because Buddy Ryan put together o-lines made of untalented, but massive, linemen.

Young will probably get sacked less than Carr, but he'll still get plently sacked behind that line.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:18pm

Leinart made some gorgeous 12+ yard passes to Jarrett where he absolutely had to be spot-on accurate. The ball came out hard, it was a perfect shot, and it hit the mark.

The shot to Jarrett for the TD is another example of this - that ball was not a fade or a slow pass - it got there in a hurry, and that was what, 25 yards?

I didn't see Young do any of that. I never see Young do any of that. He throws the long fades and posts and the receiver beats the coverage, and that's good - but I never see him zip things in between corners or passing the out route. It's possible that he can do these things, but my guess is that he doesn't have the capability right now.

Again, he has good intelligence and makes smart choices when to throw and when not to throw, and is reasonably patient - but I don't know how well that ability translates in the NFL.

by Sean D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:30pm

To compare Leinert to Harrington or Carr is not fair. Both Leinert (and Young) have played at a high level, against the best opponents in the NCAA, for multiple years. Any scout worth their salt will have both guys graded out higher than either of those. Leinert is the most polished quarterback to come out of college football since Peyton Manning. Compare him with Young and what Young lacks in polish he makes up for in upside. Leinert's game translates well to the NFL and will be able to start from day 1. Young's current game will have success in the NFL, but he must adjust so that he can avoid injury (running as many times as he did in the Rose Bowl is a sure way to get a major injury in the NFL). Anyway, my main point is that the reason these QBs are thought so highly of is because of the programs they play in and the programs they played against. Everyone can agree they succeeded at the college game, but succeeding while playing at USC (Palmer, Leinert), Texas (Young), Tennessee (P. Manning), Va. Tech (Vick), Penn St. (Collins), Miss St. (E. Manning) for multiple years is far different from succeeding at Fresno St. (Carr, Dilfer), Utah (Al. Smith), or Tulane (Ramsey, Losman) or one good year at Oregon (Harrington, Ak. Smith), Washington St. (Leaf), California (Boller), Va. Tech (Druckenmiller) or Kentucky (Couch). Not to say you can't be a successful QB coming from a lesser school (McNabb, Roethlisberger, Culpepper, Leftwich, Pennington, McNair) or fail with experience at a prominent school (McNown). But its a safer bet. I could have thrown in Brady, Brees, and Plummer to help my case, but I decided to stick with 1st rounders drafted selected since 1995.

by Iacocca cola (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 11:42pm

Personally I kind of hope Green Bay hires a black coach, Young declares and they nab him with pick #5, and then one of the whitest places in America cheers uncomfortably for two black people for at least a couple years.

by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 12:18am

I was very unimpressed with Leinart, more than anything with his game management. At many times he looked like an amateur out there (yes, I know he technically is). Too often on offense they took delay of game penalty or burned a TO to avoid one, I don't expect that with a QB who's started as many big games as Leinart has and has had success. Some of that also goes on the coaching staff, which I think was also very unimpressive.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 12:47am

Sean D., Elish went to Ole Miss, not Miss State. Neither of which is a Football Powerhouse. Had he played at Mississippi State he may have been able to see real live Bull get castrated.

Not that this trifiling thing invalidates your original thesis. I'm a Steeler fan who was a little sceptical of Big Ben's pedigree. I'm incredibly happy to have been proven wrong in this particular case.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 1:14am

How about Vince Young compared to Mark Brunell? I can't find any stats on Brunell, but I was recently looking at an old "SI Sports Almanac" and they talked about how Billy Jo Hobert was playing instead of Brunell because Brunell's arm was weak...

Just a question, as I'm not old enough to remember Brunell in college and stats are hard to find online.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 1:15am

By Mark Brunell I also mean "Mark Brunell, college QB" not his pro career...

by hwc (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 5:24am

Speaking of running QBs:

Bill Belichick was talking to the press a couple of weeks ago about college running games. He was asked why the option play is not used in the NFL.

He said the answer was simple. For decades, NFL defensive coordinators have taught the same approach to stopping the option. Defend the pitch option so the ball can't be pitched. Then, kill the quarterback.

by tim (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 6:18am

Regarding quarterback worth in regard to both the rose bowl qbs, why does it always seem that there is the assumption of existant qb resources of adequate caliber? With any given position one can be prone to parsing and analyzing the details of a player's ability and appropriating a worth independent of the actual resource of talent available at that time. As bill parcells had remarked during the drew henson episode, there isn't an ethereal stable of perfect quarterbacking talent that nfl franchises simply refuse to ring up.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/06/2006 - 10:21am

I don't think you're going to find too many stats on Brunell's NCAA career, for the same reason as you won't find too many on Matt Cassel. As I remember, Brunell backed up a guy named Billy Joe, at least as a senior.